Lack of financing rumours haunt Shetland launch site again

23rd Nov 2023
Lack of financing rumours haunt Shetland launch site again

There has been a lot of recent speculation that the SaxaVord rocket launch facility on the Shetland Isles is facing financial difficulties. More recently, locals have been reporting unusual movements at the site with contractors apparently absent from the development mid-construction.

What’s going on with the SaxaVord launch site?

The company responsible for the space centre has been mired in controversy in 2021 with a questionable inward financial investment being reported, but eventually not transpiring. Shetland Space Centre initially stated that they were delighted with a £2 million injection into the project and were fully satisfied that the arrangement is legitimate. That turned out to be £1, according to the documentation.

Regarding Shetland’s most recent difficulties, EuropeanSpaceflight looked into it in a 16th November article. According to the site, SaxaVord CEO Frank Strang had told the Scottish Parliament that they had access to £139 million in funding, but to date that hasn’t transpired.

The company have received some financial investment from Danish billionaire Anders Povlsen, but the it is it a crucial point in its construction phase and is in desperate need of funds to compete in Europe’s space race.

Sunak & Co to the rescue – errr, maybe

It is unsure what the future holds for SaxaVord, but government intervention is a distant possibility, if the company can convince it that the launch site is as vital to the economy as, say, OneWeb. According to EuropeanSpaceflight, HyImpulse Technologies pointed out to the Scottish government that while other launch sites in Scotland have received tens of millions of pounds of financial assistance from the UK and other governements, Saxa Vord has received less than 10% of this amount in public funding.

HyImpulse have taken actions that point to the seriousness of the matter. The company was supposed to conduct the first SR75 suborbital vehicle launch from SaxaVord, and even in October 2023, this looked like the case. However, the launch will now occur at Southern Launch’s Koonibba Test Range not far from Adelaide in South Australia. This launch is currently expected to happen in March 2024, which gives an idea as to how far Saxa Vord are from being able to accommodate an actual launch.

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